Outdoor rabbits require extra care than those kept indoors. Weather conditions will decide on what type of extra care will be needed. Added to the heat or cold, outdoor rabbits are more susceptible to illness and disease. Owners who choose to keep their rabbits outdoors should take extra precautions to keep their animals safe.
Rabbits do not tolerate hot temperatures and as the mercury rises, a rabbit can become stressed and overheated fairly quickly. When outside temperatures rise above 85 degrees Fahrenheit, a rabbit can begin to have problems cooling its body which can lead to heatstroke. During the summer months, a rabbit should be checked regularly for any signs of stress.
Outdoor rabbit hutches should be kept in a shaded area and never left in the direct sun. Ice packs and frozen water bottles will be welcomed by your rabbit to lean against and cool its body. Marble tiles can also be placed in the bottom of the hutch as these tiles have a cooling effect on the body. Always provide a rabbit with a continuous supply of fresh, cool water during the dog days of summer.
During the winter months, a rabbit burns more calories trying to stay warm. When temperatures drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, a rabbit should be proved with a continuous supply of hay (preferably Timothy hay) to help resupply those extra calories needed. Extra bedding including hay can be added to the hutch to help keep your rabbit warm. For regions that have freezing temperatures during the winter, owners should seriously consider moving their rabbit indoors or into an enclosed area free from any drafts.
Water is as essential during the winter months as it is during the summer months. Water will need to be watched for freezing over and resupplied daily or as needed. A nesting box should always be provided to a rabbit in both warm and cold weather. Smaller and dwarf rabbits are more susceptible to the cold and should be monitored closely during the winter months.
Rabbits that are kept in the great outdoors come in contact with a variety of pests that most house rabbits aren't bothered with. External parasites such as flies and mites can become troublesome for a rabbit. Hutches should be well ventilated and cleaned regularly to avoid infestations of parasites. Droppings should be cleared away daily as manure draws these parasites to your rabbit.
An outdoor rabbit should be inspected regularly for any wounds or cuts. Wounds should be cared for immediately to avoid infections and diseases caused by flies that lay their eggs in open lesions of animals. A hutch should also be constructed well and raised off the ground to avoid other animals like stray dogs from getting to your rabbit. The hutch should be protected from other elements such as wind and rain which can also be detrimental to a rabbit's health.
Not all rabbits can be house rabbits especially if multiple rabbits are owned. However, that doesn't mean that outdoor rabbits shouldn't receive the same care and security as an indoor rabbit. Rabbits that are housed outdoors should be provided with protection from the elements, fresh food and water, exercise and regular screening for any health concerns.